Cetara

Already from its name, which derives from the Latin “Cetaria” (Tonnara), one understands the vocation of this charming fishing village, which still maintains its ancient seafaring tradition intact.

Cetara appears as a small group of houses perched in a green rocky inlet, with a charming Saracen tower rising above the small beach, and a small harbor where fishing boats and fishermen’s goiters are moored.

Famous for its colatura di alici (anchovy sauce) and delicious tuna caught off the coast by traditional tonnare (tuna fishing boats), it is a favorite destination to sample the Amalfi Coast’s best fish.

We bet that by the end of this page, Cetara’s seafaring charm will have bewitched you?

How to get to Cetara

Cetara is well-connected and easily accessible both by car and public transport, being only 17 km from Salerno and 49 km from Naples.

✅ To reach it by car, once you get to Salerno, you will have to exit at the Vietri Sul Mare tollgate and continue in the direction of the Amalfi Coast. Passing through Vietri and continuing along the Amalfi state road 163, you will reach Cetara.

 ✅ You can also reach Cetara by sea, thanks to the daily Travelmar lines, which from April until the beginning of November, connect Salerno with Cetara and other towns on the Amalfi Coast.

There are also numerous SITA SUD Salerno-Amalfi bus lines. If you prefer to travel by train, however, the nearest train station is Salerno, from which you can then use the SITA bus lines or Travelmar ferries.

📣 Your road free from queues: book the ferry!

If you’re planning your trip to the Amalfi Coast and you’re dreading the idea of tackling the tortuous State Road 163 Amalfitana, we recommend downloading our free guide “How to get around the Amalfi Coast without stress,” where you’ll find lots of useful information on how to get to the Amalfi Coast and how to get from one village to another, either by public transportation or by car!

Where to sleep in Cetara

 📣 Looking for a hotel in Amalfi? Here are our recommendations for you!

Holiday Homes

Casa vacanza Alla marina

Cetara – Corso Garibaldi, 45
9.6
Exceptional –
12 reviews
B&B

Reginella

Cetara – Vicolo fornelle 4
9.3
Superb –
107 reviews
Hotel

Hotel Cetus

Cetara – Corso Umberto I
8.8
Favoloso –
446 reviews

What to see in Cetara

This seaside village, small but with an important history, still preserves intact in its monuments the memorable passageways that have forged over the centuries the nature of the area and the character of its inhabitants.

📍 Prominent above them all is the Vicereale Tower

Cetara’s identifying element. It was built in the 16th century for defensive purposes and still stands on the beach of Cetara with all the charm of its historical bearing. The tower was part of the system of sighting and defense that included about 400 towers throughout Southern Italy: when the enemy was sighted, the towers launched, by day, smoke signals, by night, fire signals, so as to alert the local population.

In addition to the sighting function, the towers also had a defensive function: even Torre Vicereale in Cetara was equipped with three cannons and three petriers.  The building was first purchased by private individuals and finally given to the municipality, which, following restoration work in 2011, opened the tower to the public. Inside the building there is a Civic Museum that houses the works of “costaioli” painters and artists from Cetara, such as Manfredi Nicoletti and Ugo Marano.

📍 The Church of San Pietro Apostolo

dating back to the 9th century, in Baroque style, and later embellished by its dome covered with glittering majolica tiles and its 13th-century medieval bell tower, with mullioned windows and octagonal belfry, ending in a cone-shaped spire.

📍 Also worth seeing are the Church and Convent of St. Francis

both dating back to the 1300s. In the one-nave church you can admire enchanting frescoes by Marco Benincasa. Among them, in the vault is the image of Sister Orsola Benincasa, a Cetarese woman who lived between the 1500s and 1600s. The Convent, consisting of a cloister and several cells, now houses a restaurant and is the headquarters of the municipality of Cetara.

Of more recent construction, but of no less interest and importance than the previous ones, is the Church of Our Lady of Constantinople, built in 1800 and renovated in 1921 after damage suffered from a violent flood.

What to do in Cetara

📣 Looking for unique experiences in and around Cetara? We are sure you’ll love these!

Trekking and walking

Not everyone knows that wonderful trails also start from Cetara, connecting the seaside village to the town of Cava de’ Tirreni, of which Cetara was a port and commercial outlet until 1833, and to the Sanctuary of the Avvocata.

Below are three excursions to take starting from Cetara!

📍 From Cetara to the Sanctuary of the Avvocata

Starting from Via Imbrice, climb up to Il Piano di Viesco, from which you can admire a splendid panorama. Along the way you meet the “Reggiulella” stream. Continuing the walk you will meet the path marked by the CAI that connects Cetara to the Sanctuary of the Avvocata. From here you can contemplate a unique panorama, ranging from Punta Licosa to the island of Capri.

📍 From Cetara to the Abbey of Cava de’ tirreni

This walk, which allows you to travel what was once the only road connecting the city of Cava dei Tirreni for the exchange of goods, is definitely more challenging, both in terms of time and effort. The route starts out uphill, running along Mount Falerio, but later the fatigue diminishes, as the path becomes downhill and leads by the picturesque Badia. Worth visiting is the museum, opened in the 1960s, which holds a variety of works of high historical and artistic value.

📍 From Cetara to Erchie

A long flight of steps starts from Via Turillo. The path to reach Erchie starts from which and allows you to enjoy, along the way, a landscape that varies from the inhabited center to cultivated gardens, finally attaversing the coolness of the woods. Proceeding, you reach the path that leads to the Vallone di S. Nicola. Past the remains of a convent and an ancient water pipe, you reach the state road near Erchie.

Unique experiences to do in Cetara

The center of Cetara is teeming with restaurants and bars offering the best catch from Cetara’s waters. There are several places where you can decide to stop for a delicious lunch break or dinner.

✅ You may decide to enjoy a good tuna sandwich, an omelet served in the typical cuoppo, or let yourself be delighted with the best dishes prepared by very good chefs.

✅ Impossible not to mention here the flagship seafood product of this fishing village: colatura di alici.

This amber-colored liquid sauce is derived from the process of maturing salted anchovies through an ancient technique derived from the Roman Garum. It is used to enrich many dishes, but it excels in the preparation of a great classic of the area: spaghetti with colatura di alici, a traditional local dish, simple in preparation, but very tasty. In the waters of Cetara the best oily fish of the entire coast is caught, with the delicious anchovies (Engraulis Encrasicholus L.) used in the preparation of typical local dishes, and processed and preserved in oil and salt, by local companies.

✅ Also prized is the tuna caught offshore from the famous tuna fisheries of Cetara.

We recommend stopping for lunch or dinner at one of the local restaurants, where you can enjoy the best local dishes and the fresh catch of the day. In addition, at the small stores in the center, you can buy typical products processed and preserved directly on site.

✅ Among the unmissable experiences in Cetara, there is undoubtedly windsurfing.

Cetara, is located in a particular position, which makes it exposed to winds perfect for practicing this sport. Near the beach you will find a store to buy or rent equipment, as well as windsurfing and kitesurfing lessons and courses.

The beaches of Cetara

📣 There are three bathing options:

✅ The larger Marina beach, located in front of the village houses and a few meters from the public parking lot. Here you will bathe in a postcard-perfect setting, framed by the typical houses with arches and the fascinating Vicereale Tower and dotted with typical fishing boats.Except for the stretch of beach near the tower, the remaining part of the beach is free. The only drawback: this beach is very crowded in the central months of summer.

✅ The smaller, secluded harbor beach is reached by the sun until late afternoon. This is also served by a small bathing establishment and is in close proximity to the parking lot. A good alternative to the Marina beach.

✅ Another beach, wilder and almost hidden, in the shelter of the tower, is Lannio Beach which can only be accessed on foot, via a short path from the tower and through a final flight of stairs to the sandy beach. The name of this beach derives from the “lamentations” of monks slaughtered in the Middle Ages by Saracens during an invasion.

Unmissable events in Cetara

The procession of St. Peter, on June 29, is a very special rite that significantly and evocatively expresses the essence of the Cetaresi, fishermen by birth and vocation.

On the occasion of the Patronal Feast, the statue of the saint is carried in procession lying on a boat-shaped throne adorned with blue hydrangeas. The procession, in which children dressed as sailors also participate, reaches the beach.

During the procession the bearers of the stuatua sway, simulating almost a dance, to mimic the waves of the sea. On the Marina beach, dotted with small boats and lampara, the blessing of the sea takes place, which is followed by the bearers’ race to the churchyard. The celebration ends with a splendid fireworks display.

Why choose Cetara as your destination

This picturesque location offers the possility of staying in an authentic seaside village, very attached to its origins and traditions. As we mentioned earlier, the Cetaresi are fishermen by birth and vocation.

If you are a lover of good seafood cuisine, here you will be able to taste many traditional dishes, stock up on colatura di alici and learn the secrets of some traditional recipes.

The tranquility, the pleasantness of the summer evenings, the peculiar characteristics of this village, will make your vacation unique, giving you moments of quiet and relaxation, without limiting the possibility of moving to other destinations, since Cetara is well connected, both by land and sea, to the other towns of the Coast and to Salerno.

📣 Choose Cetara as your travel destination if:

🔹 You are looking for a quiet, picturesque and unique destination;

🔹 You are a lover of nightlife: in twenty minutes by car you are in Cava de’ Tirreni or Salerno, where you will find a wide choice of clubs and discos to enliven the evenings of your vacation.

The best time to visit Cetara

Since it is a quiet village that has maintained its authenticity, in our opinion, Cetara is at its best in spring and fall, when the influx of travelers is reduced.

The advantages of reaching Cetara and the Amalfi Coast in these seasons are also others: you find definitely less traffic, you have an easier time getting around by car or public transportation, and less difficulty in finding a parking space.

Not to mention that in the low season the rates of hotels and b&b’s and, in general, parking lots are also lower.

If you are a lover of the sea or windsurfing, prefer the beginning or end of summer, when there are still few vacationers. Remember that, weather permitting, September can give you unforgettable sea days, with pleasant temperatures and decidedly less crowded beaches.

3 interesting facts about Cetara

✅ The seaside village of Cetara was chosen to film some shots for Paolo Sorrentino‘s film “It was the Hand of God.”

✅ The main character of the Sky series “Diavoli,” Massimo Ruggero (played by Alessandro Borghi) is a native of Cetara. There are frequent flashbacks of him glimpsing the seaside village on the Coast. In one episode, the protagonist meets Dominic (played by Patrick Dempsey) in Cetara itself. Scenes are shot between the beach, the harbor area and the cemetery.

✅ A very special legend is linked to the Lannio beach. According to tradition, in fact, at this beach, monstrous wails were heard. A Cetarese man allegedly decided to find an explanation and, upon searching the beach, found bones. Apparently, the wailing would cease after giving these remains a proper burial. In memory of this macabre affair would remain the name of the beach, “Lannio,” which in dialect means precisely “lament.”

The History of Cetara

The origins of Cetara date back to the early Middle Ages, when its territory, almost uninhabited, belonged to the jurisdiction of the Etruscan city of Marcina, most likely coinciding with Vietri sul Mare, as reported in the Chronicon Salernitanum. The first seafaring settlement dates back to the second half of the 9th century. A colony of Saracen pirates settled in nearby Fuenti, choosing it as a base where they could hide their galleys in order to carry out raids along the coast.

The settlement on the sea and side hills, began to develop around 988, around the church of St. Peter the Apostle.

At that time the eastern part of the territory of Cetara belonged to the Lombard principality of Salerno, while the western part was included in the Byzantine Romanesque duchy of Amalfi. The people of Cetara, paid the ius piscariae, the tithe of fishing, to the bishop of Amalfi, on whom they depended since 1030. They then came under the political rule of Amalfi in 1120.

Later they were assigned by Duke William to the Benedictine monastery of Erchie, and finally to the Abbey of the Holy Trinity in Cava, which was connected with Benedictine monasteries in Africa, with which it exchanged goods and pilgrimages.

At the time of the maritime republic, the Cetaresi, like all the coastal inhabitants of the duchy of Amalfi embarked on the republic’s ships, participated in the maritime and commercial activities of the duchy, contributing actively to the triangular cycle of Amalfi trade, which had Southern Italy, North Africa and the Byzantine Empire as its peaks. Fishermen applied to their activities the profit-sharing chapter mentioned in the Tabula Amalphitana, a collection of maritime laws that provided for the division of profits, from the sale of the catch, into three equal parts.

One part belonged to the boat owner, another to the captain and the third to the crew. In May 1534 the Turkish fleet of Sinam Pasha, called by Prince Ferdinand Sanseverino, first sacked the villages of Erchie and Soverano and then attacked Cetara, taking about 300 men and slaughtering anyone who refused to board his galleys. Following that sad affair, and in order to preserve the territory from other sudden attacks, it was decided to build near the beach the watchtower called Vicereale, still in excellent condition today.

Since then, however, the decline of Cetara began. Only on January 1, 1838, after centuries of quarrels and disputes, was Cetara elevated to a municipality independent of Vietri, giving the people of Cetara full autonomy in their own administration

Where to sleep in Cetara

Holiday Homes

Casa vacanza Alla marina

Cetara – Corso Garibaldi, 45
9.6
Exceptional –
12 reviews
B&B

Reginella

Cetara – Vicolo fornelle 4
9.3
Superb –
107 reviews
Hotel

Hotel Cetus

Cetara – Corso Umberto I
8.8
Favoloso –
446 reviews

NEI DINTORNI

Atrani


It sits on a narrow strip of land at the outlet of the Dragon Valley: It is the smallest municipality with less than 1,000 inhabitants

Salerno


Located between the Amalfi Coast and the Cilento Coast, the city in recent years has become famous for the Luci d’Artista

Conca dei Marini

Conca dei Marini


A small seaside town perched on a rocky rise between Cape Conca and the Emerald Grotto